SHAUN Wane has paid Mike McIlorum the ultimate compliment by comparing him to his hero – former Warriors hooker Terry Newton.
Stand-in skipper McIlorum was outstanding at the Etihad on Saturday as the Warriors battled to an 18-14 nail-biting victory against Leeds.
He will again be asked to lead from the front as Wane’s depleted champions travel to struggling Salford on Thursday nigh
He believes the 26-year-old is now stamping his authority in a similar way to aggressive former Test ace Newton, the player McIlorum looked up to when he was emerging through the ranks.
“He’s got the same aggression, he can play a bit, he wants to win and he puts his body on the line – just like Terry did,” said Wane.
“I see Terry in him. His own team-mates love playing with him, but opponents don’t like playing against him.
“He’s fearless. He’s only 89kg but he throws his body in, he loves the physicality of the game and the tough stuff.
“If I was England coach, I’d go for Micky because the Australians don’t like playing against him.
“He epitomises what the club is about – he’s competitive but he’s a nice person off the field.”
Prop Eddy Pettybourne is likely to return from injury to face Salford.
He could take the place in the squad of Blake Green, who will undergo surgery tomorrow on a bicep tear which will sideline him for around 12 weeks.
Pettybourne’s return would allow McIlorum to return to hooker and Sam Powell to take Green’s place in the halves.
“Hopefully Eddy can get through the team-run (tomorrow), we’ll make a call then,” said Wane.
Dom Crosby has been cleared to play after escaping with a caution for a dangerous throw against Leeds.
Ex-Warrior Gareth Hock has also been cleared to play for raising the knee in a tackle against Widnes.
SPECULATION linking Joel Tomkins with a return to rugby league is “rubbish”, according to younger brother Logan.
Meanwhile, coach Wane has decided against recalling the young hooker from his season-long loan spell at Salford.
He had considered his options after seeing his squad depleted by injuries. But with several frontline players nearing return in the next weeks, he decided against a recall, and Tomkins is free to face his parent club on Thursday.
EX-WARRIORS favourite Brian Carney is to head up Sky Sports’ coverage of this year’s Gaelic football and hurling championships.